How to Practice Humility with Dan Rockwell [Podcast]
Dr. Nathan Regier welcomes Dan Rockwell to today’s episode. Dan is a Leadership Freak, his blog by the same name has reached virtually every country in the world, andas a leadership expert, executive coach, and successful keynote speaker, Dan brings exceptional wisdom and insight to conversations about leadership, integrity, and authenticity.
Humility is a topic in which Dan has shown interest recently, a concept that has a lot to do with compassion and leadership, and that is why it is the center of Dr. Nate and Dan’s conversation in this episode.
How to Practice Humility with Dan Rockwell Highlights
- You can’t change your nature, but you can engage in humility practices. Instead of beating ourselves up for being self-centered or arrogant, we can simply notice it and then implement daily practices to combat that tendency.
The mistake is thinking we can defeat the red dragon. The red dragon is Dan’s name for arrogance. He cautions us not to think that we can defeat it and walk away and pretend it’s over, just like the thriller movies where the hero thinks he’s killed the monster. They always come back when you’re not looking. Hubris is thinking you don’t have to pay attention to the red dragon.
If you want to pour a lot out of your life, pour a lot in. Humility means realizing you aren’t the center of the universe and focusing on serving others instead. To do so means we have to take care of ourselves and we have to spend time becoming more self-aware. We each need personal care in order to serve others and that’s okay.
VOICEOVER: Are you tired of the negativity and drama? Are you trying to make a difference, only to be drained by people problems? The world needs more compassion. Not just more civility and empathy, we need in the trenches compassion that struggles alongside people instead of against them. We need a radically different way to engage for breakthrough results, and now here’s your host, Dr. Nate Regier.
NATE REGIER: My guest today is a highly experienced leadership expert, writer, friend, and mentor of mine, and just a really amazing person. Dan Rockwell is the Leadership Freak. His blog by the same name is read in virtually every country in the world. As a leadership expert, executive coach, and successful keynote speaker, Dan brings exceptional wisdom and insight to conversations about leadership integrity and authenticity.
NATE REGIER: I first met Dan when he agreed to interview me about my second book, Conflict Without Casualties. Since then, we’ve collaborated on a few things and spent time learning and growing together in our shared passion for leadership. As I’ve gotten to know Dan, I’ve been so impressed with his humility, his wisdom, the knack for asking such good questions, and his ability to listen with deep presence. I recently learned that the topic of humility is of particular interest to Dan. I think humility has a lot to do with compassionate leadership. I thought this might be a great topic for our show. I’m delighted to be joined by DAN ROCKWELL for a conversation about humility. Dan, welcome to the show.
DAN ROCKWELL: Thank you, Nate. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you and to talk about a topic that apparently I’m going to need to practice it a little more after that introduction. I want to meet that guy that you were introducing, but thank you for your kind words. I’ve so enjoy our relationship. We’ve been getting together regularly here for some time and it means a lot to me. It’s been very helpful. Thanks for the opportunity of being here.
NATE REGIER: Oh, you’re so welcome. Same here. This is kind of a different conversation than some that I have because we know each other, we’ve been talking about these topics. I’m really looking forward to a more conversational approach. You know that thing about the introduction, I always hate it when I get introduced for a keynote or something and everybody claps after the introduction. It’s like, I haven’t done anything yet. Now the standard’s been set pretty high. I much prefer if they’re going to clap, clap at the end, not after the intro.
DAN ROCKWELL: I usually tell them, “Boy, you’re very optimistic. I haven’t done anything-
NATE REGIER: I know, right?
DAN ROCKWELL: … and you’re clapping.”
NATE REGIER: Yeah. We should give a commission to whoever introduces us, I guess maybe that’s where, but hey, for those people that maybe don’t know you yet, or aren’t reading your blog yet, will you share just a little bit about your journey and how you’ve come into the kind of work that you do?
DAN ROCKWELL: I started Leadership Freak about 11 years ago and it was just a fluke, really. I got my MBA late in life. I became interested in organizational development and things like that. Trying to find a channel to get some of this out, and part of it was, I had always thought of myself as a leader. Then as I learned about leadership, I realized that I was really just a terrible leader and I thought I was great, but I wasn’t. I thought maybe I should start getting better at this. Leadership Freak started as a way for me to start writing about leadership and things that I was learning and thinking about. I didn’t know anything about blogging. I didn’t know anything about writing really, except for contracts with clients and things like that. I worked at an affiliate of Penn State and I handled some things. There were contracts and things like that.
DAN ROCKWELL: I started writing, and thankfully I made several good mistakes. One of them, is I wrote it for myself. In that sense it was brief, I have a short attention span, so just 300 words are fewer. Grammar people quickly told me it’s 300 words or less, not 300 words.
NATE REGIER: Okay.
DAN ROCKWELL: I use the wrong language, but kept that for the most part. Just the way it was set up on the page. Everything that I did, I did because it was something that I might like to read and come to find out, the way I read webpages is the way a lot of people read webpages. It worked out. Leadership Freak, it really changed our lives. That’s where I started getting opportunities to coach and talk to people and do presentations. I’m just thankful for the whole thing.
NATE REGIER: Leadership Freak was one of the first things you did as kind of a leadership consultant trainer, putting yourself into that space?
DAN ROCKWELL: Great question. I was involved with adult ed and staff development at the college and community outreach. In that capacity, companies would come to us to the college and say, “We need training on this or that.” I would be the person they would end up talking to. I’d either hire faculty or sometimes I’d do it myself. The first leadership course I taught was with a Fortune 500 company that has a presence here in our community. There were going to be union people and non-union people in the room and everybody said it’s going to be a total fiasco. It was about supervision. I did a two day thing with them and they were so ecstatic. This is the truth now, eight years later, they wanted to do some more training that was like that. Somebody said, “I remember that guy, what was that guy’s name?” They actually contacted me and I worked for that company again, based on some ancient history or record. I started and when you do something, you get praise, you want to do more of it. It worked out and so I just started doing it. Leadership Freak came shortly after that.
NATE REGIER: Okay. Okay. I don’t know how you do it. You and Seth Godin are two of my favorite blogs. I don’t know how you write a blog every single day, or at least every weekday. That’s incredible. We’ve talked a little bit about that. Obviously 300 words helps, but they’re not random. What’s your secret?
DAN ROCKWELL: You know as a writer, it’s harder to write short than it is to write long, I mean.
NATE REGIER: Well, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m trying to create a micro course now, which we just talked about. It’s a lot harder than a full day training.
DAN ROCKWELL: I get that question a lot. I think the simple answer is if you want to pour a lot out of your life, pour a lot in. I have these wonderful conversations with people like you. I read books. I am constantly thinking about leadership. I had a coaching conversation just before our call. As a result of that, there’s a blog post that’s going to come out of it. I said to the client, “Look, this is wonderful. Your insights are great.” We put some things together, and I won’t mention anybody’s names or anything like that, but sometimes it comes from a coaching call and you never know. I love to write mad by the way. I like to be upset about something.
NATE REGIER: Yeah.
DAN ROCKWELL: I kind of write on the first draft in a way that you wouldn’t want to post, and then you turn it into a positive message. If I’m frustrated with something, that helps me too.
NATE REGIER: Sleep on those before you post them, right? Yeah. I actually get a lot of inspiration from working with clients for my stuff too. Anyways, you mentioned earlier, before we started about being really a dairy farmer kid.
DAN ROCKWELL: Yeah.
NATE REGIER: Did you grow up on a farm?
DAN ROCKWELL: Very thankful that I grew up on a dairy farm in central Maine. You’re always who you were when you were 13. I was on a dairy farm. I was doing chores. I think that work ethic and that family business and just the discipline of that kind of life, has served me really well. I’m so thankful for that. I don’t want to live on a farm today and I definitely don’t want to milk cows again, but it was great.
NATE REGIER: Did you just say you are always who you were when you were 13?
DAN ROCKWELL: Yes. Yeah.
NATE REGIER: That sounds like a great song, but there’s some wisdom there you’re saying. Whatever the values that you were starting to be around, whatever’s going on with you, that’s probably something that’s going to be with you your whole life.
DAN ROCKWELL: Yeah. Well I just feel like a kid all the time.
NATE REGIER: Yeah.
DAN ROCKWELL: I have to tell. You reminded me, John Acuff has written a book and, a son of a gun, I forget the name of it now, but he talks about the music that you like and he said, “You’re about 13 or 14 years old and that’s the music that you love the best.” I tested him on it. I went back and looked at the years-
NATE REGIER: Yeah.
DAN ROCKWELL: … and son of a gun, if it wasn’t my favorite music.
NATE REGIER: Wow. Well, my dad, would’ve added a quote to this that says this may be true, and the older I get the smarter my parents get.
DAN ROCKWELL: Absolutely.
NATE REGIER: Well. We’re here to talk about humility and I recall something you said that I’d like to start with here. Tell me the story when you first realized that the world didn’t revolve around you.
DAN ROCKWELL: Well, that happens pretty regularly.
NATE REGIER: Well, maybe the first time.
DAN ROCKWELL: Yeah. The idea that we are the center of the universe, I think, is part of the problem of arrogance and part of the challenge of humility. I think it starts for all of us when we’re like, I don’t know, two or three years old and all of a sudden we don’t get what we want and we throw a tantrum. In a way, I sort of feel like a lot of my behavior has been a sophisticated throwing of tantrums because I’m not the center of the universe. It’s a challenge for me to get to, you know what I mean? I’ll say this, I need regular reminders that I am not the most important person in the world, and that I am not the most important person in the room and that the world does not revolve around me.
NATE REGIER: We need to be reminded of these things because it’s true. When we act like it’s not true, we throw these tantrums and we get more sophisticated as we get older, but we still throw them. Why is this so important that we know this?
DAN ROCKWELL: Yes.
NATE REGIER: Why is this true? Why is it so important that this is true, that we aren’t the center?
DAN ROCKWELL: That’s the heart of the issue, Nathan. If I want to serve, if I want to make a difference, if I want to have impact and all of those things are true, I think for people listening and for me and for you, then I have to shift my focus from looking at me and how everything is about me, to start to think about how is it for you and how is it for the people in the room. That shift, I think, reflects a basic humility practice. I don’t necessarily always feel humble. I can’t define humility as a feeling because if I do, I’m totally lost on that, but I can define it as practices. I think one of the key practices is even the shifting of language, I to you and we, and that kind of thing helps me in this practice. I don’t want to be like I’m the humble person in the room, because I’m definitely not, but I do believe it can be practiced. That helps me. I’m really fairly distant from the topic. That’s why I’m so interested in it.
NATE REGIER: Yeah. Well, that’s how you started your blog was, “I want to learn about these things so I’ll write about them.”
DAN ROCKWELL: Yeah.
NATE REGIER: Are there other practices of humility? Shifting languages is an important one.
DAN ROCKWELL: I think so Nathan. I think compassion is important to you and the practice of compassion is important. I want to say this, we don’t want to think of ingenuous practice. We don’t want to think of fakery. Whether it’s the practice of humility or the shift from focusing and thinking about how things are impacting me to how things are impacting you or where I want to go versus where you want to go, that shift needs to be genuine. I’m fascinated by this. I feel like I’m not one person, I’m many people in my head. You may need to give me some counseling here, but I think things I don’t want to think. I mean, that’s just the truth. If you’re a worrier, you say, “I don’t want to worry, but I can’t help it. There’s a part of my brain that worries.”
DAN ROCKWELL: I think things that I don’t always necessarily want to think, I think, “You’re better than that person.” Well, I cringe to say that to you, but in my head sometimes I think that, and it’s like, “No, get a grip.” That’s where I go to practices. I can’t always think right, but I can genuinely say humility is better than arrogance. Humility serves better. It serves me better. It serves others better. It’s an accurate embracing of who I am and what the world is like.
NATE REGIER: I love what you’re implying here, is that there may be things we can’t control. Some of our natural urges, maybe our personality, my personality is naturally self-centered, so I’m always battling that. I can know in my head what’s the right thing to think or the right thing to feel or the right thing to do, but it doesn’t seem to change those natural instincts. Rather than trying to punish ourselves or control those things, we can develop practices to deal with them or to counter them. That almost sounds to me like mindfulness or some of this nonjudgmental mindfulness about some of our stuff. How do you see that?
DAN ROCKWELL: Yes. That’s a wonderful way to look at it Nate. The idea that just noticing, notice what you’re noticing even. Are you noticing the other person, are you noticing yourself? They say, “Oh, I’m thinking about myself.” All right, so now I’m going to shift, what do they look like? What’s the tone in their voice? What are their concerns? What are they really after? That shift to me is a genuine shift, even though it’s not necessarily a natural shift, right?
NATE REGIER: Yeah. I appreciate that. I feel hopeful when I hear that, because I think people would probably say, “Yeah, I could put myself on a spectrum of humility,” or it’s like, “Oh yeah, that comes easy for me,” or, “It comes easy for him, but I couldn’t do that.” What you’re saying is, no anybody can. Anybody can practice this. You said you juxtapose humility and arrogance. Are these opposites in your mind?
DAN ROCKWELL: Well, it’s a great question. I think if we drop ego into here as well, the idea of an egoless leader doesn’t make sense to me. Ego is important, to know who you are and have a sense of mission and to believe that you make a difference in the world. These are all good, healthy things. If egoless means, “I’m a worm and I’m nobody and all of that,” then I wouldn’t want anything to do with it. I think the overestimation, that’s where I get arrogance from. The overestimation of self, the overvaluing of self. I suppose in our culture, that’s a strange thing to say, but that’s the issue. I call it dancing with the red dragon. I think about the red dragon is this big ego, if you want to say arrogant thing, that I dance with regularly. I don’t believe I can defeat the red dragon, he’s sort of like a monster in a horror movie. Do you know what I’m saying? If you think you’ve got him choked out and he’s dead, right? You’re going to turn your back and the camera pans to the monster and the eyeballs pop open.
NATE REGIER: Let’s go back to when you said dancing with the red dragon, when you kind of introduced that concept, we’re back.
DAN ROCKWELL: Yeah. I started realizing this probably, arrogance, ego, I’ve thought of it as my dance with the red dragon. I’ve always been dancing with the red dragon, whether it’s this overestimation of self or whatever you want to call it, the big ego. I think one of the crucial mistakes we make is that somehow we can defeat the red dragon. There is no defeating, the red dragon. I had a conversation with Ken Blanchard, he’s in his eighties now. He said, “I’m still learning that it’s not all about me.” I mean that, oh boy, that just helps me. The red dragon, he can’t be defeated. He’s sort of like a monster in one of those Stephen King horror movies, where you think he’s been destroyed and then you turn your back and everybody’s celebrating and the camera pans down-
NATE REGIER: Yes.
DAN ROCKWELL: … and the eyeballs pop open and the monster. That’s the red dragon for me. I’ve been dancing with that ever since I had consciousness of myself I think.
NATE REGIER: That’s a really good point you make, that just when we think the mistake we make is thinking that we can defeat the red dragon. I would call that hubris. Different than arrogance, but hubris is you think you have it figured out, you think you got it all going on. You think you’re good. I’ve heard all these kind of statements like, “The biggest threat to future success is past success,” which is you think you got it figured out. You think you’ve defeated the red dragon, which is the biggest mistake to make. Again, it reinforces this idea of, we still have to have a relationship with it. We can’t pretend it’s gone or doesn’t exist or that we can defeat it. It’s there. You brought up Ken Blanchard. I’m reminded his definition of humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less, how does that sit with you?
DAN ROCKWELL: I think there’s some value to that and there is some debate, right? He actually said this to me the other day. I don’t know whether it’s Rick Warren or Ken Blanchard or some other person who said this first, but I think there’s value in that. There’s this implication of, we want to be careful because self-reflection is so valuable in this process and noticing yourself. The problem is, when we get too much of it. I found out that there’s an ineffective way for me to think about myself. If I’m constantly thinking about how I’m feeling and how I’m doing, and if people like me and all of that, that’s that self-centered, self focus that is a distraction from really the kind of life I want to live.
NATE REGIER: Yeah. We’ve done some work at Next Element about distinguishing self-esteem from self-efficacy. I’d love to get your take on this.
DAN ROCKWELL: Yeah.
NATE REGIER: Self-esteem, esteem is about how am I seen, how do I stack up? Esteem is always in comparison to some external standard. I think this really gets to this, our whole culture of likes and how your value is based on how many people watch your video or how many people follow your blog or whatever that is. We let the world define our value, whereas self-efficacy is really more about internal standards and, “Do I have what it takes to meet the demands? Can I do this?” It’s more just confidence. I’m curious if you see that distinction or how that sits with you.
DAN ROCKWELL: Well, you’re much better expert at this idea of self-esteem and self image and all of those things. I’ve never really been a huge fan of self-esteem, that language because, and I know people don’t always mean this, but I feel like if self-esteem is me lying to myself about how great I am, then it’s just a myth. I want to have self respect. I want to have value as a human being. All of us have value as a human being. That’s not about performance. That’s just about value and feeling good about myself. I’m not proud of this either Nathan, but I can tell you, I have a better day when I get lots of views on my blog and people are complimenting me and all of that. I’m not proud of it, but it’s just the truth. Efficacy is a great word. It’s great.
NATE REGIER: Oh man, I’ve got a lot of different paths we could go here or that I’m curious about this. I want to start with humility versus how we see ourselves. If Blanchard said not thinking less of yourself, and then I’d love to pick your brain on how we interpret compliments, how we interpret praise when we’re humble, but his first thing.
NATE REGIER: Thinking less of yourself, I’ve shared this before in some of my interviews. My father who passed away 11 years ago, he struggled with depression at various times in his life. One of the things that I always struggled to distinguish, was humility from self deprecation. He was a very humble man. He grew up as I did, in more of a Midwestern, kind of more religious traditional environment where pride is a sin and you don’t be prideful. You don’t bring attention to yourself. He kind of cultivated these habits of eschewing praise, not taking compliments, and yet working himself to the bone to serve people. He was worthy of praise. He did amazing things and changed lives and people wanted to appreciate that, but he wouldn’t take it. Once I learned he struggled with depression as I got older, I thought, “Wow, it must be really hard to distinguish those two for some people.”
DAN ROCKWELL: To distinguish?
NATE REGIER: Distinguish, what’s the difference between being humble and thinking less of myself like, “I’m not worthy. I’m not worth it. I don’t deserve to be seen?”
DAN ROCKWELL: Yeah. I think this is one of the challenges when you talk about humility to people, is they immediately think it’s like, “Oh, I’m nobody. I’m nothing. Everybody’s better than me,” and all of that. I actually had a conversation with a very well known leadership expert, written many, many books. If I said his name, you would know immediately who this person is. I said, “What role does humility play in all of this that you’re talking about?” He paused for a minute. He said, “Well, nothing.” It threw him off because he immediately thought of humility in the negative sense.
NATE REGIER: Mm-hmm.
DAN ROCKWELL: That’s unfortunate because we need to have an accurate estimation of our talents and our skills and our abilities and our influence. I mean, it would be wrong for you Nate to say, “Nobody’s listening to me.” It’s right to say, “You know what? There are people who listen,” and they take seriously what you say. Here’s maybe the practice of humility that helps in this, and that’s gratitude. When you think about, “I’m not a nobody. I’m not the greatest thing in the world, but I’m not a nobody. I do have influence and I do have efficacy. I do have influence.” What is my response to all of that? I’m so thankful for the opportunity to serve, opportunity to make a difference.
NATE REGIER: That may get to this idea of how do we interpret praise or how do we interpret so many?
DAN ROCKWELL: Yeah. We didn’t get there, did we?
NATE REGIER: Yeah. Well, let’s talk about that. You have a better day when more people read your blog.
DAN ROCKWELL: Yes.
NATE REGIER: How does that relate to humility?
DAN ROCKWELL: Yes. Well, maybe not the best. I need to live by my values and what I think is right and do it regardless. I don’t know, I’m having second thoughts as I say it, because part of the practice of humility is listening to feedback from others and growing and improving yourself. All that simply means is, “I’m not there yet.” When a compliment comes in, I think I used to nothing, blah, blah, blah. Or I would go the other way. I don’t know if you’ve done this or not. I never forget. I was in my twenties and at an elder gentleman, one time, we were sitting and talking, he complimented me on my fashion awareness, if you can imagine. He mentioned my shoes and I had a nice pair of Florsheims. I don’t even know if they make them now.
NATE REGIER: Oh, I remember the Florsheim store when I was growing up.
DAN ROCKWELL: Yeah.
NATE REGIER: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
DAN ROCKWELL: They were nice. They were nice shoes. I went on some sort of rampage about how I picked shoes and how I did this. To this day, I mean, that was years and years ago, I still cringe when I think about that idiot back there. It gets to what I think most of us would say is appropriate, and that is just the practice of gratitude. “I’m thankful it made a difference. I’m thankful it was useful. Thank you.” I like to say thank you for saying that. Sometimes I’ll even say, “What was it about that you found useful,” but I want to take the compliment seriously and be grateful.
NATE REGIER: I was talking to Blaine Bartlett the other day about his work with compassionate capitalism. He was talking about this outward mindset, kind of what we’re talking about, and the view that we’re all connected and our behavior makes an impact in the world. He asked me about the soul of our business. I hadn’t really thought about it that way before. I was thinking about from ’08 when we started Next Element to now and those 13 years of as I’ve gotten older, as I’ve matured, as I’ve been influenced by amazing people like you, how has my view of that changed?
NATE REGIER: I think to your point of the blog, let’s just take one simple thing. How people respond to a speech I do, or a presentation or my blog, I think in the beginning it was more, “Oh, wow they like this. They like me. They think it’s awesome.” Now it is, I’m starting to feel more like as I get more connected to my purpose, more of a servant leadership attitude, I can be grateful and proud of the difference. That’s now evidence of a difference being made, rather than evidence about how awesome I am or how smart I am. I feel that I can see what you’re talking about. Maybe as we engage in these practices, we can start re-experiencing how praise or feedback of any kind impacts us.
DAN ROCKWELL: Yeah. You know what you made me think about is, it used to be when I stood in front of an audience to give a presentation, I was very worried that they liked me and I had to change my narrative. The narrative now is, “These people like me and they want me to do well.” Instead of me thinking about do they like me and all of that and how do I get people to like me, and it’s just like, “They’re paying for me to be there and they’ve invited me to be there. They like me so chill, relax.”
NATE REGIER: Yeah. Yeah.
DAN ROCKWELL: Right? They want you to do well, Dan. Oh, that is good to know.
NATE REGIER: Oh, well we’re on a journey here for those that maybe have hit the 25 minute mark on their treadmill or whatever. We talked about this shift from we’re the center of the world to we’re here to serve others and we’re not the center of the world. Then we talked about how that relates to the way we see ourselves, not that we’re better or worse, but we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. When we can view our role to serve and to make a difference, then we can take positive feedback and be grateful for it, rather than have it puff us up and interpret as though we’re somehow better than or worse than somebody else.
NATE REGIER: We both come from maybe kind of more rural traditional backgrounds. I’d like to touch a little bit on a hot topic, which is how religion maybe relates to this. People that know me and have listened to my podcast, they know my background. They know I’m a person of faith. My parents are missionaries, but I also have struggled with how that relates to these topics of compassion, humility, and things. Do you have any musings or things you’d be willing to share on the connection between this?
DAN ROCKWELL: Well, don’t get me started.
NATE REGIER: “Don’t get me started.” Hey guys, keep going on your treadmill or your bike ride, wherever you’re going.
DAN ROCKWELL: First of all, humility and religion seem to have split company many centuries ago. This is so unfortunate. Of all the people who should understand and practice humility, religious folks should be the ones who do. My experience with the religious folk, and I’ve been a believer and a church goer for many years and involved in church ministry for many years, but my experience is that we can be some of the most arrogant people in the world. I think because we think we have the answer or because we think we’re right or we think we’re superior in some way. It goes all the way back to New Testament times, I think, with Jesus and there was a group of religious folk who had it all together. They were the only people that he seemed to have a real problem with.
DAN ROCKWELL: To me, we should be good at humility, but we’re not. The idea that you need to believe in God to practice humility, I would hope that it’s helpful because now we get this idea that there is somebody bigger than we are. That’s important, but I don’t think it’s necessary. You can be an atheist and practice humility, simply because I think it’s accurate.
NATE REGIER: Yeah. Well, thank you for that. I’ve experienced the same thing.
DAN ROCKWELL: Did we just insult half of your listening audience?
NATE REGIER: No more than I ever have before. It is so interesting when humans, we believe in something bigger than ourselves that is supposed to help us have hope, help us have perspective, help us realize we’re not the center of the universe, but then when we decide that we have that figured out, then all of a sudden we are the center of the universe again, because we now have to tell everybody else what’s right. Really interesting, maybe paradox of human nature. Human nature there. I’m with you on that religion can maybe be helpful or maybe spirituality. I was distinguishing those the other day. I think spirituality is our experience of being connected in this world to something bigger than ourselves. Religion is kind of what we’ve created as humans to codify this whole thing and organize it. I think for compassion really at the center, is this idea of recognizing that we are all in this struggle together. Religion or not, look around you. We’re all in this together. Our faiths are interdependent. To put myself first, really works against our long term thriving.
DAN ROCKWELL: Wow.
NATE REGIER: I appreciate that. Yeah, it’s hard. Then there’s these humble braggers, the people that want to brag about how humble they are.
DAN ROCKWELL: You have to be careful Nate. You say, “Well, I had a conversation with Ken Blanchard,” and name dropping and, “We only had 10,000 visitors at the website yesterday,” and it’s like, “Oh, heaven, help us.”
NATE REGIER: Yeah. Yeah. I love Ken. I love speaking with folks like you that maybe on the surface, if we don’t know you, we look at these things. We look at these statistics, we look at the different ways that we try to write these resumes. I’m working through a book now, it’s not a new book, it’s called, The Go-Giver.
DAN ROCKWELL: Oh yeah.
NATE REGIER: It’s kind of a switch on the go getter, the idea of giving. One of the premises is really that the way to get from successful to stratospherically successful, is really about how much you’re willing to give and how much you’re willing to serve. That’s really the difference. It’s a fundamental shift that I appreciate discovering about folks like you.
DAN ROCKWELL: It’s awesome. Bob is incredible.
NATE REGIER: Yeah.
DAN ROCKWELL: I love that one of the principles is, that your value is determined by how much you give beyond-
NATE REGIER: Yes.
DAN ROCKWELL: … what you’re paid for or something like that.
NATE REGIER: Yeah.
DAN ROCKWELL: I mean, it’s like, “Whoa, that’s so good.”
NATE REGIER: Well man, we could go lots of different directions. Dan, here we are, over 30 minutes already we’ve been talking. I try to keep this at kind of a length that people can digest on their drive to work or something. As we wind this down and try to land the plane and put our seats back up in the upright position and hook our seat belts and everything, do you have any last reflections or insights or anything that has occurred to you throughout our conversation?
DAN ROCKWELL: Well, I so appreciate what you said, that some of this feels helpful or it feels hopeful thinking of humility as a practice. How can I shift from just making the world about me to making it about others, seems to be a core idea. Let’s just acknowledge this. If you don’t have the inclination to think you’re wonderful and to get puffed up when people compliment you, if you don’t have that inclination, good for you. The rest of us are grappling with this. Let’s just be honest with it and say, there’s a better way to respond to this whole thing. Thanks. I’m so thankful for the chance of talking about this again with you and the dance with the red dragon continues.
NATE REGIER: Yeah, it does. Unlike some of my guests who maybe have a book or have a proven practice, today was not about us saying, “Here’s the three steps to being a humble person,” or, “Buy my new book on humility that I’ve researched by surveying a 100,000 humble people.” Really, today was about just processing what we’re dealing with. Thank you for just your candor to just say, “Here’s where I’m at. Here’s what I struggle with.” Hopefully our listeners today can draw some nuggets.
NATE REGIER: I want to leave a question with everybody, which is, I think a big theme here is maybe the thing I pulled out the most, is that humility isn’t something that we can just all of a sudden defeat the red dragon, and then we’re going to be humble people. It’s something we do the next semester or we check the box on that course. It is a daily practice. I’d like to put out to all the listeners, what do you do? What is your practice to keep that red dragon from coming back and getting us every day. Dan, thank you so much for who you are and for giving your time and energy today.
DAN ROCKWELL: Thank you, Nate. It’s such a pleasure to see you again and to be with you. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share with your audience.
NATE REGIER: Here are my three key takeaways from this rich conversation with DAN ROCKWELL. First of all, you can’t change your nature, but you can engage in humility practices. Instead of beating ourselves up for being self-centered or arrogant, we can simply notice it and then implement daily practices to combat that tendency. Second of all, the mistake is thinking we can defeat the red dragon. The red dragon is Dan’s name for arrogance. He cautions us not to think that we can defeat it and walk away and pretend it’s over, just like the thriller movies where the hero thinks he’s killed the monster. They always come back when you’re not looking. Hubris is thinking you don’t have to pay attention to the red dragon. Finally, my third key takeaway is if you want to pour a lot out of your life, pour a lot in. Humility means realizing you aren’t the center of the universe and focusing on serving others instead. To do so means we have to take care of ourselves and we have to spend time becoming more self-aware. We each need personal care in order to serve others and that’s okay.
VOICEOVER: I hope you enjoyed this episode of On Compassion with Dr. Nate. If you found new hope or guidance for your life, will you share it with your tribe? If you know someone who could be a great guest, please let us know. Are you ready for a practical way to bring more compassion to your organization? We have a solution. Visit www.thecompassionmindset.com. Check out the show notes for links and contact information. Remember to subscribe, rate, and give a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening. Until next time, keep your compassion mindset engaged.